Friday, December 31, 2010

This New Year, Y not 2K

What were we doing 10 years ago?  Some of us were freaking out about Y2K.  Why?  OK, when computers were just babies memory was scarce and programmers were trying to save every byte they could.  So they only used the last two numbers of the year, because everyone knew all the years started with 19.  Now the 19 was going away.  Computers would go completely nuts! You'd lose all your stuff!  No one would know how to fix it!  Actually not everyone reached those particular conclusions. But those conclusions were pushing our freak-out buttons like the guy who wants the elevator NOW.   
What we thought would happen:  
Catastrophic economic crash. 
Civilization in chaos.
And everyone's favorite, nuclear holocaust.
But the whole she-bang passed without, well, a bang.  So we've got that going for us.  Happy New Year!

Source:  Countryside and Small Stock Journal, Sep/Oct98, Vol. 82 Issue 5, p16, 6p.
as accessed through EBSCOHost

All six locations of the Des Moines Public Library will be closed on Thursday, December 30, Friday, December 31 and Saturday, January 1. Thursday is unpaid leave for the staff.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

We Are Closed for a Few Days and Fun Facts

Today is a furlough day so we're not getting paid.  We're closed Friday and Saturday too, but we just get paid for Friday.   Have I confused you enough yet?  Bottom line, all six locations are closed and the next time one will open is Central Library from 1-5 Sunday.  All other buildings will open their regular hours on Monday.  Nothing is due on the days we are closed.  You can still access our Web Page.  Just the facts. Speaking of which, (segue!) have you played around with the Fun Facts lately?  We are adding information from our Tough Question File, like "where was the first brick house built in Des Moines?"  Not even The Commodores knew the answer to that one.  But they're not from Des Moines.

More Fun Facts.    Minus the comedy. 
Type 'house' in the keyword box for the answer to today's Tough Question.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Do Something New

Don't you think now would be a good time to take up a fresh hobby?  Sure you do! Make the world more colorful.  One popular purveyor of painting techniques is ... the alliteration is a clue ... Donna Dewberry!  Donna knows you don't want to paint the Sistine Chapel.  You want to put some color on a brush, lay it down and have it look good.  Get ready for one-stroke painting!  It reminds me of tole painting but with softer shading and mixing of colors.  Apparently one loads different hues of paint onto one's brush in a side-by-side manner, then applies the paint with particular movements. Looks really easy.  Our selection of DD books includes instructions on painting fabric and furniture too.  That chair's not getting any prettier on its own.

Donna Dewberry Books

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Too Much Stuff

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things.  I'll admit I am something of a packrat.  I come by it naturally - my paternal grandmother had small boxes lining the stairway up to the second floor.  I don't mean they were sitting there waiting to go upstairs the next time she made a trip.  No siree.  This was permanent storage, and I'm not at that point.  Yet.  The people in this book zoomed light years past Grandma. The infamous Collyer brothers, who lived in a cave of newspapers they'd stacked in their home, are covered.  I'd forgotten they'd set booby traps. Golly. Most of the people profiled aren't paranoid recluses which makes their cases all the sadder.  But fascinating.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Radio City

Look at them.  So proud in their shiny bathing suits.  And womanly thighs.  Now you know this is not a contemporary photo, no no , get out of here with your 1958 thighs, says Radio City 2010.  Radio City Musical Hall opened on this day in 1932.  And the Rockettes were there!  According to Saturday Evening Post, Rockettes needed to be between 5'5" and 5'8" tall in 1958. Now the height range is 5’6” to 5’10".  But to be truthful I did not find a thigh requirement.  Sometimes I exaggerate.   And apparently I am obsessed with size. Happy Anniversary, Music Hall!

The Music Hall. By Morris, Joe Alex
Saturday Evening Post, 1/11/1958, Vol. 230 Issue 28, p34-92, 5p
as accessed through EBSCO Host

Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday Blips Five - LBD

So how does a sophisticated urbanite like Rhoda Janzen wind up in her Mennonite parents' home after more than a decade gone?  Sudden divorce, overwhelming mortgage, and one heck of a car crash.  Janzen's story of acquainting her adult self with the world of her childhood is hi-larious and honest.  She discovers a kindred spirit in her mother Mary, a nurse who is more wordly than I'd expected. While Janzen obviously disagrees with much of Mennonite life she treats it with respect and is quick to point out her personal absurdities.  So. You've got your fun and relatable main character, a dandy portrait of her family plus a glimpse into a life generally unseen by the public at large. (I am not small).  I laughed, I sighed, I learned a lot.
Mennonite in a little black dress : a memoir of going home / Rhoda Janzen

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Blips IV - Sweeter than Pie

Cowboy and Wills: a Love Story.  Doesn't it just sound like the sugariest, gooiest book ever?  And I haven't even told you that Wills is a puppy!  (OK, maybe the cover gave it away).   Well compared to Marley and Me this is positively gritty.  Because Wills is a little boy with autistic spectrum disorder, and his case is pretty profound.  Soap bubbles hurt his skin.  How on earth could he ever cope with a world full of stones?  Cue the puppy.  People struggling with forms of autism often respond well to animals, and it turns out Cowboy was the key to Wills.  Sounds intolerably cute but the book is contains sharp observations of the hard facts about mainstreaming.  Plus a happy ending!  Yay, puppy!

Cowboy and Wills: a Love Story by Monica Holloway.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Week Blips III - The Science of Angels

Oh man, this was fun!  'Angels' walk among us and they are just as vain and cruel and venal as the humans they despise.  There's a convent where the nuns know all about these angels and are holding the fort against them.  The obligatory curious novice digs around and helps set the ensuing chaos in motion.  How do you solve a problem like the apocalypse?  Killer fight towards the end, and this is high praise from me because fight scenes generally bore me comatose. (I'm taking to you, Peter Jackson.  Helm's Deep took up, like, 2 pages in the book!)  This attack is riveting. Can't wait for the next book. 
Angelology Danielle Trussoni

All six locations of the Des Moines Public Library will be closed for the holidays: Wednesday*, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, December 22*, 23, 24, 25, 26. Wednesday is an unpaid furlough day.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Week Blips II - Kraken Up

Ready for a big fat juicy book about squid worshippers?  I know!  Where has it been all my life?  Another slow starter, but as soon as Wati shows up things start hopping.  Wati is the spirit of an ancient Egyptian slave and he can communicate with humans only when he is inhabiting statues, dolls, anything inanimate that has a head.  He's really riled up and you know it's always fun when a Barbie-like doll rants about union busters.  See, the familiars of magical people - your cats, pigeons, squirrels - are working in terrible conditions with lousy benefits and they're on strike.  So wacky!  And yet not cutesy. Hard to swallow? Maybe, but hang on for the ride.  If you like steampunk this is right up your London back alley.

Kraken by China MiƩville

All six locations of the Des Moines Public Library will be closed for the holidays: Wednesday*, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, December 22*, 23, 24, 25, 26.  Wednesday is an unpaid furlough day.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday Week Blips - Go Wild!

All six locations of the Des Moines Pubic Library will be closed for the holidays: Wednesday*, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, December 22*, 23, 24, 25, 26.  Wednesday is an unpaid furlough day.

You may be too busy to read lengthy blog posts, so I will keep them short, if not sweet, this week.  You have plenty of sweets at home.  As do I.  They're too far away.

What you need are book reviews!  Books to take your mind off whatever.  Because the stuff I like is not going to happen in your back yard.  Oh, and there are potential spoilers in the reviews.  But only in order to reveal the coolness of the book.  First up:
Wild Life by Molly Gloss
This starts slowly but it's worth the time. First it details a single mother's life in the Pacific Northwest logging country circa the early 1900's. The main character narrates and she's kind of a pill - arrogant, condescending and not fabulously warm to her kids.  Wait, wait it gets better!  Charlotte hares off to join the search for a missing child, secure in her vast wilderness skills. But things fall apart. She gets lost and is not prepared for what's out there.  Want to know what's out there?  Bigfoots!  She lives with them and learns their language!  How awesome is that?  Very awesome!  We have it in Large Print so you won't miss a word.

Wild Life by Molly Gloss

Friday, December 17, 2010

Farewell to Mr. Bob Feller

You've heard the news by now.  Iowa's most famous baseball player, Bob Feller, died Wednesday of complications from leukemia. The Des Moines Register did a fine job reporting his life and career in yesterday's paper.   Only here do you get the Story of Bob Feller and Burke Shiffler.  Burke, a Bob Feller fan from way back, is a librarian at the Central. He has met, yes, and chatted with Mr. Feller on several occasions.  Burke has 3 baseballs signed by the legend.  Burke's son, a mere one year old at the time, received his very own signed Bob Feller baseball.  It's never too early to meet a sports icon And the baseball cards!  It's fascinating to see the variety that has been available over the years.  Not to mention the postage stamp from Grenada!  Where do you even get this stuff?  Burke has generously installed a large part of his Fellermania collection in one of the display cases on the second floor of the Central Library.  Take a look when you stop in, it is very cool.

Bob Feller Books

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rain Drops

According to hydrologists from the U. S. Geological Survey, an inch of rain falling evenly on one acre dumps approximately 27,154 gallons of water.  I'm guessing that would mean a flat-as-a-pancake acre.  Using EPA figures this would equal:  388 baths; 1086 showers; 662 loads of laundry (using an average, not high-efficiency washer); 7758 flushes (if your commode was produced in 1992 or an earlier date). Why don't showers use more water than baths since the water runs continuously?  Our bathtubs are huge.

 EPA WaterSense
Des Moines Tribune, 7/4/1968

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Buried in Iowa

Veterans of the first American War, that is.  There are Revolutionary War soldiers buried all over the state.  Astounding! Since Iowa - territory or state - did not exist in the 18th century, how did this happen? The veterans all lived in the original 13 colonies at the time of the war. (Ok, duh.) Some veterans got here on their own steam. Settlement of the Iowa area began in 1833, so there was plenty of time to move here.  One veteran, Benjamin Bell of the Pennsylvania militia, lived to 102 and is buried in Vegors Cemetery, Webster County Iowa. For those who didn't live that long, some deceased veterans were moved to Iowa.  At that time it was not uncommon for families to disinter their loved ones and rebury them near their new home. This information is courtesy of Mrs. Stanley Shepard of the Daughters of the Revolution, who was in 1971 researching the locations of Revolutionary War veterans' graves in Iowa.  Since then the DAR has accumulated much more, see the link below.
Source:  Des Moines Register 1/3/1971 p. T1
Here is a link to the web page of  The Iowa Society Daughters of the American Revolution  with the names of ‘Iowa’s Patriots’, Revolutionary War Veterans buried in Iowa.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More radio news

The first ever opera written specially for the wireless was a collaboration between Charles Wakefield Cadman and Nelle Richmond Eberhart.  "Willow Tree" was broadcast by NBC radio on October 3, 1932.  Sounds lovely. Cadman composed the music and Eberhart wrote the libretto. Now get this: The two also wrote "From the Land of Sky-Blue Water".  Sung by the immortal Alma Gluck.  You know you want to say it.  I can hear you thinking it.  Sing with me now:  "Hamm's the beer refreshing!"  Nothing like a really good jingle. From the people who bring you operas.

Source: Know Your American Music, by Martha C. Galt
Billboard Nov 25, 1944 p.33

Monday, December 13, 2010

Police Radio in Iowa

The first state police radio in Iowa was created not by state, county or local government.  It was the bankers.   In 1924, the Iowa Bankers Association arranged for WHO to broadcast information on bank robberies and burglaries.  In 1932 said Bankers Association established a 400-watt station in their very own offices. The State Bureau of Investigation sent bulletins to the Bankers Association radio station which would broadcast the messages to officers throughout the state. What if the bankers were all out sick with the flu?  Hmmm?  In 1933 the Iowa Legislature woke up and smelled the crime.  They allocated money for 2 state-run stations, one in Waterloo and one in Storm Lake. And they kept the bankers' station.  The state radio system officially launched in 1937.  By this time they had the hang of it and broadcasts were sent to sheriffs, police departments, state highway patrols - some sort of law enforcement agency in all 99 counties received the alerts. I'm sure the bankers were wonderful, diligent people, but Hurray! 
Source:  Des Moines Register 12/27/1968 p.5
Photo Courtesy State Library of New South Wales

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lightning-Quick Gifts.

Get a jar. Toss in cocoa mix, chocolate chips, marshmallows, bingo!  Pretty up the top of the jar with a ribbon and you have what is known as a gift.  Soapmaking!  All kinds of fun molds are out there. Melt some store-bought soap blocks, pick your scent, and add a ribbon to your finished creation. Candlemaking! A sheet of beeswax, a length of wick and you. Wrap it in ribbon when you're done. There's always room for ribbon!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Have you noticed the way beautiful ribbons call to you?  They're shimmery, rich, colorful ... and half the time they're half off!  This is how I found myself with a houseful of the stuff. Just sitting there.  Mocking me.  "You don't have a clue what to do with us. You are stuck with us for life, toots. Nyah."  Ribbons are not known for their mature communication style. If you have lots of ribbons you'd like to actually use but you're not much of a seamstress (Seamster?  Don't mess with a seamster.) we have options.  Most of the projects start with something ready-made and add ribbons to it.  My kind of crafting.  Add gorgeous ribbons to votive candle holders, plain picture frames and photo albums, et voila!  They are transformed into spectacular gifts.  If you want to make fake flowers out of ribbons, A Passion for Ribbonry is your BFF.  Pansies, roses, lupins! I am not kidding you, lupins! Take a look at all our ribbonry books and get cracking.
Ribbon Craft Books

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jewelry. It Can Be Done

Easy easy easy!  We have several books about jewelry-making that claim to make the craft easy, and they wouldn't lie, would they?  I mean it says so in print.  On a book.  I've always wanted to try paper jewelry.  Not the fancy stuff, with origami or any other techniques that have the least whiff of difficulty about them.  Just the kind they probably make in Girl Scouts. Roll up a triangle of paper until you have a bead, slap some kind of shellac on it, dry it out and string it up.  I made one bead and it was gorgeous.  Kind of limited though.  But if I can do it ...
Jewelry-Making Made Easy Books

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Paper View

Look at paper a new way!  As stuff you can easily fashion into presents.   I know you're out there.  You have scrapbook paper stuffed under beds, stashed in closets, peeking out of drawers.  And it's all so beautiful, perhaps you don't want to let go.  Buck up!  Here's your chance to haul it out and use your paper for good! 
Paper it! : 50 home decor and gift ideas using scrapbook papers.    
Handmade gifts : stylish ideas for journals, stationery, and more      
Paper : beautiful ideas for gifts and home decorations     
Papercrafts : 50 extraordinary gifts and projects, step-by-step

Monday, December 6, 2010

Make It Easy

The holidays are coming and I can feel parts of the city panic, tiny screams bouncing off the sidewalks.  My job to ease your anxiety: find quick and easy craft projects for gift-giving!  I'm like that.  First up:  potholders! Handmade ones just seem to say "Welcome to my home.  Have some pie."  If you know how to crochet, how quick is a potholder?  Easy to Crochet Potholders includes fun designs like ducks and cows, and one that is a little dress!  Too cute? If you want to branch out and still keep it small, check out the Big Book of Dishcloths, Potholders and Scrubbies. They've got kitchen textiles covered. But these babies aren't quite as easy; you have to know your needlework.   Then when you are ready to leave the kitchen One Skein provides instructions for some other little projects.  Don't you feel better now?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Skinny

You can literally have thick skin. According to Good Housekeeping, skin can vary from 1/32nd to 1/8th of an inch thick.  Both numbers are small but there's a big difference between the two.  Good Housekeeping continues:  If you are an average-sized human your skin weighs between 6 and 7.5 pounds.  Do weight loss plans take this into consideration?  I think they should.  That is totally innocent poundage, folks. Also skin is very elastic and will snap back to its original shape after being stretched 10 to 50 percent.  Really.  They don't mention the age of the skin used to determine this.  Plus ow.  I'd say we take our integument (new word points!) for granted if I didn't see about 3500 ads for skin products every day.  Do I have thick skin?  Since I can see my veins I'm guessing no.  Hey, if you try that stretching thing let me know how it works out.  Maybe I'll hear the 'snap' all the way across town.
Source: Good Housekeeping June, 1978 p. 75

Still Verbing After All These Years

As a culture I'd say Americans like action - coffee, pizza and language to go.  One example of this national characteristic:  verbing. Verbing is the act of using a noun as a verb.  Not a new phenomenon by any means, as demonstrated by the following words that were only nouns in the Concise Oxford Dictionary c. 1964, and are now verbs verbs verbs. 
Host - throw the party at your house
Access - get that info
Leverage - use your assets with all your might
Parent - actively raise those young 'uns
Transition - make that move
Our personal favorite:  geek!  From the 'Geek the Library' operation, :  "The awareness campaign introduces the word ‘geek’ as a verb and illustrates the fact that everyone is passionate about something—everyone ‘geeks’ something—and that the public library supports it all".  That is verbing with a purpose.  The public libraries not only support your interests, now we provide you with a lively new word to describe how you feel about them.  In the grand tradition of those who've kept the English language zippy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Skip the Jump

I'm reading Packing for Mars, and in the entire chapter devoted to ralphing the author has this handy tip.  When trapped in a plummeting elevator, lie down.  That goofy business about jumping in the air just before you land is not useful.  Because you are going to hit the floor.  According to author Mary Roach, who researched the heck out of this book, the body is best engineered to handle pressure in the supine position. NASA knows this due to years of studying the effect of buckets 'o gravity on humans.  One of the many offshoots of NASA research that can be applied to everyday life, ladies and gentlemen!  Bonus fact:  some motion sickness is caused by calcium deposits in your inner ear.  They're supposed to be there, but don't like it when you move your head too quickly.  I always thought of calcium as being more relaxed.
Packing for Mars : the curious science of life in the void / Mary Roach